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Showing posts from 2015

What's so kosher about kosher salt? Get all the facts, myths, and tips.

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It's taken over the gourmet world.  You pretty much wouldn't write a recipe that includes salt without it.  It's also an annoying fact of life for those of us googling "kosher" recipes - that yummy salt bumps up almost every recipe to the top of the list even if it's a recipe for bacon double cheeseburgers.First of all, you may already know that "kosher" salt is no more or less kosher than any other salt.  That is, it's kosher, but so is table salt, coarse salt, sea salt, Himalayan pink mountain salt, and every other form of pure salt.So if you eat kosher and cook kosher, you CAN use kosher salt.  But you don’t have to.So why is it called kosher?That’s actually just a mistake.  This flattish crystalline form of salt is actually kosher-ING salt - the kind of salt used to "kasher" meat to make it kosher.Most kosher salt has air between relatively flat crystals.  So when you're using or substituting kosher salt, use "more" o…

Freeze the lime in the coconut (with just a touch of chocolate, mm-hmm)

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If you’ve ever heard the “Lime in the Coconut” song – don’t worry.  There’s no “bellyaching” here, just a whole fluffy heap of summer-Shabbos deliciousness. On a hot day, it feels like there is no taste more perfect than lime and coconut mixed together.Happily, I discovered a couple of years ago that you can WHIP the cream that rises to the top of coconut milk.  Is there anything more perfect, you ask?  No, there is not.Well, okay... it does get a little more perfect, when you stir in just a small handful of tiny chocolate chips.  Mini chocolate chips work best, because they're awesomely subtle, but really, who's going to complain that their chocolate chips are too big?Here is the basic premise of this, the easiest and perhaps most perfect of all whipped desserts:This isn't exactly a recipe, more like a method.  You'll need well-chilled coconut milk or coconut cream, so stick it in the fridge overnight before you open the tin.  Only use the coconut cream that's cong…

Magically healthy panko-baked sweet potato puffs

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Are you sick of kugels but aren’t sure what else you can make to serve on the side of a Shabbos or Yom Tov meal?  Here’s something that’s just as EASY as a kugel, only in tasty, crunchy, bite-sized morsels. Last week, I wanted something like the Alexa brand sweet potato “tater tots,” which by all accounts are absolutely delicious.  We can’t buy them here, so I knew I had to make something from scratch.  My puffs came out totally different, but utterly delightful in their own right.  They’re a great way to sneak even more of that sweet potato goodness onto your family’s menu. Plus, they’re terrifically simple: Bake or boil the sweepoes (I boiled mine), puree them with egg yolks, cornstarch and seasoning, and then coat the mixture with panko before baking.  I added a little melted coconut oil to the sweet potatoes; you could probably leave it out OR substitute canola if you wanted something subtler (there wasn’t a strong coconut taste, however). Everybody loved the taste and texture of thes…

We be (Gulab) Jamun… an out-of-the-ordinary dairy dessert for Shavuos / Shavuot

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When I first found out that Judaism had a holiday specifically for celebrating dairy foods, my first thought wasn't cheesecake.  My first thought was... gulab jamun. What the heck are gulab jamun???If you love Indian food as much as I do, you probably already know.I grew up eating a lot of Indian food, and once I started keeping kosher, I missed it most of all.  More than Chinese, Thai, or KFC put together. (Maybe not more than real dim sum!) When I was a toddler, my father flew to India with an Indian friend and had the time of his life.  He came back with a pair of lovely white linen "day pyjamas" that he'd save for special occasions, a love of delicate nose piercings and an insatiable appetite for Indian food. (For some weird reason, my father hated ear piercings for girls but told me as I grew up that it would be just fine if I got my nose pierced.  And indeed, he didn't flinch when I eventually got one.) Ah, but Indian food.  Fortunately, that was one appeti…

Keep it cool all summer long with freezer pop molds under $10

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Do you have a problem with ice cubes?Come on, hands up.  I know I do.  Working in one of the World’s Tiniest Kitchens, I appreciate any solution that saves space, time, money, and hassle.  And living in Israel, I need – desperately! – to stay cool all summer long.  Oh, yeah, and if I can spend less than ten bucks, all the better.Last summer, I bought these silicone freezer pop molds for my husband.  Back in Toronto, he had a brand of storebought freezable juice pops that were 100% juice that he loved as a refreshing summertime treat.  Here, everything is made with a ton of sugar, so I thought he could use these to make his own.Aren’t they pretty?(If you click the pics, you’ll be taken to the best-rated freezer pop molds I could find on Amazon – I bought mine locally.)Weirdly, and to my great sadness, my husband didn’t take to them.  So they’ve mostly sat empty and unused for the last year.  But when the weather here started heating up last month, I had a flash of realization:  ICE!Ice…

Meatless Eggy Muffins – quick cure for “hangry” (hungry + angry) mornings

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How hangry do you and your kids get in the morning?  (Or afternoon, depending on how late you've slept in and/or procrastinated.) Around here, the answer is... VERY.These quick, easy, eggy muffins are exactly what you need:  the cure for Hangry.  Shh… don’t tell anybody: they’re basically little mini-quiches, just without a crust.These are sometimes called "scrambled egg muffins."  But on most sites, you'll find them chock-full of some type of meat that just won't work in a kosher kitchen.  Pork, ham and bacon are all super-popular at breakfast time, apparently. Even if you could use some kosher kind of meat, you'd miss out on all the cheesy goodness of these delighful, bite-sized breakfast treats.  So why bother?  Just toss in lots of veggies and you'll never miss the bacon, I promise.Make your life super-easy and prepare these in reusable silicone muffin cups.  I didn’t used to like the idea of these, but after a few times of using them for candy and ot…

Chocolate balls: super-easy Israeli kids’ dessert

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My fellow Israelis are ridiculously huge fans of desserts involving what are basically soggy cookies.  This may have something to do with the fact that the horrendously misnamed “petit beurre” cookies are absolutely everywhere. These cookies are analagous to the Social Tea biscuits we used to buy back in Canada.  They’re misnamed (in Hebrew, “פתיבר” – all one word) because, being pareve, they don’t contain a single drop of butter.  I’m sure they’d be a great base for desserts of all kinds, but actually, the pareve ones aren’t a bad substitute.Perhaps the best-known and most-loved of these treats is Kadurei Shokolad (כדורי שוקולד), literally Chocolate Balls.  When I told my kids we were having them, they literally jumped and shouted “yay!”  GZ (age 7) was not too thrilled when I told him he’d be making them himself, but he got into it quickly.These are super-easy to make, and tons of fun to do with kids.  I recommend having a variety of sprinkly things on hand to roll them in.  We didn…

Homemade “No Corn Syrup!” Kosher Marshmallows (without all the patchke)

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I’ve always loved the way Shoshana at Couldn’t be Parve turns out gorgeous gourmet marshmallows in flavours like Blood Orange, Rose and Raspberry Lemonade.  She makes it look easy, and the truth is, I’ve followed her recipes and they’re not difficult.But as with most marshmallow recipes, they involve hauling out a thermometer (and I don’t have a real candy thermometer, just a digital one that I dunk into things as needed).  Most marshmallow recipes also call for corn syrup, though Shoshana does offer a liquid invert sugar “marshmallow syrup” recipe that I’ve used several times.  It works, but it involves extra steps that add to the “patchke” of making marshmallows from scratch.When we were invited to gluten-free friends for lunch, I saw it as a great opportunity to make marshmallows again.  But I REALLY wasn’t looking forward to monitoring the temperature or doing the invert-sugar step.  Out of curiosity, I started googling thermometer-free recipes, and found this one, which was also …

Delicious, delightful, Kosher for Pesach soup lokshen (noodles)

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Around here, it’s not truly Pesach cooking season until the soup lokshen are ready.  Each year, this is how I inaugurate my brand-new, shiny-clean Pesach kitchen.(What?  Yes, I’m still going on about Pesach… when do you want me to blog about Pesach, DURING Pesach?  Before Pesach??  Oy.  This was the first chance I’ve had to breathe, and post this, in nearly a month.)This year, I mentioned to a friend that I was getting ready to make the lokshen, and she said, “what?”It turns out that not everybody makes Pesach lokshen… go figure.It’s exactly like making blintzes during the year, except you leave out the flour.  And because blintz leaves are mainly flour, you have to add a LOT more egg.  This bowl has maybe ten eggs in it.What’s the exact recipe?  You’ll have to forgive me, but I’ve never written it down.  Here are all the components:10 eggs (Large) Several Tbsp of oil About 1/4 cup of potato starch Salt and pepper Some water but not enough to make it too runny (probably about 1/4-1/2 …

5 Slurp-Worthy Kosher Ramen Hacks

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You might have guessed that I haven’t been a college student for some time now.But that doesn’t mean I’m not still addicted to one of the staples of college-student life.  I don’t feed it to my family, but when I’m looking to treat myself, one of my favourite indulgences is… ramen noodles.You can find all sorts of articles online about how ramen is the perfect college food because it’s something like 20 cents a packet.  That’s not quite true if you’re cooking kosher.  Kosher ramen has always been a little more of a luxury; I don’t think we ever found it for less than $1.99 in Toronto.  Here in Israel, it’s about 4nis (about $1), though it’s sometimes on sale for less (like 5 for 10nis).These aren’t recipes, more like suggestions.  The key is to not try to do too much at any one time.  Too many flavours will only clash with each other; choose two or three distinctive notes that will work well in harmony.  Here are some flavour notes that might inspire you as much as they have inspired …

How to turn humble onions into sweet, savory magic: caramelize them.

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Want a secret weapon in your cooking arsenal that you can pull out anytime to make anything taste better? One that can make the difference between a dish that's good and a dish that's fabulous?  Between so-so and WOW?  A secret ingredient you can toss into almost anything, because it's totally pareve and versatile?No, it’s not a dream.Yes, this magic ingredient exists... and it's onions - the caramelized kind. Is it magic?  Or science?Onions are like Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.  When they're raw, they're hard, sharp, with a nasty sting that makes your eyes tear up.  But when caramelized, they're soft, mellow, sweet and... well, full of all that caramelly goodness. The word "caramelization" refers to the browning that happens in the onion's sugars.  Sugar in an onion?  You betcha.  Even the most humble yellow onions have plenty of sugar, and the special sweeter varieties like Vidalia have even more. Did you know that you can actually caramelize on…

It’s Adar… so let’s get cooking! Kosher Cooking Carnival (KCC)

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Life really does get cooking at this time of year… kind of literally.  I’m usually pulling out of my winter hibernation just in time for yom tov cooking/baking, first in a fun Purim way and then in a dead-serious Pesach way.This carnival is about all things kosher and cooking.  If your blog is, too, or if you’ve blogged about kosher food on another blog, then you’re welcome to join us!  Last month’s KCC was hosted by Batya at me-anderNext month’s KCC will be hosted… well, that’s TBD.  (If you blog about food, why not step up?) For more information and an upcoming schedule, visit our facebook pageSo what’s doing in kosher food?What we’re eatingFirst of all, with Pesach on the way, you should be inventorying your food and trying to use up what you’ve got.  If you haven’t already, there’s still time to start, as Batya does at her blog me-ander in Pre-Passover Inventory Time.  She says, “Sometimes I'm totally amazed at what has been stored away all year waiting for a special occasion.…

Granola greetings: a perfect way to start the day (dairy)

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It’s sort of like alchemy, really… you take oats, which is essentially horse food, and you turn it into pure, hearty breakfast yumminess.If you’re thinking of starting to make your own granola, this is one of those “old favourite” recipes you’ll want to keep handy.This picture here of the ingredients highlights the truly “no-frills” alchemy of this recipe:  crafting a premium product out of all these yellow-label groceries.  (the brown sugar and a couple of other things that aren’t packed in yellow were left out of the photo)I’ve made this granola many, many times now.  I’m still searching for a source of milk powder (skim or otherwise) in Israel, because now I miss it… a lot.  Plus, storebought granola is pretty expensive here, while oats are relatively cheap.I was surprised the first few times that I liked it so much; I’m not a huge granola fan.  Before I made this, I tried the Artisan Bread in Five Granola (the granola is meant to be used to make yummy Granola Bread!), but to be ho…

Kosher Kinda-Caribbean Rice & Beans – easy, creamy & delish (and pareve, too)

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I've been on a bean kick this winter.  So when I wanted an out-of-the-ordinary side dish that would double as something appealing and warm that I could offer the kids when they came home on a blustery, rainy day, I decided this Caribbean-style rice would be incredible.I'm calling it “Caribbean-style” (sorta Caribbean) because I've never had ACTUAL Caribbean rice.  And I didn't follow the recipes I found online (mainly this one) to the letter.  2017 UPDATE!  Watch me make a quick-n-easy variation of this recipe that you can throw together in under half an hour:Most of the recipes I found are spicier than my family likes, although one I found suggests cooking the pepper without opening it (do not peel, seed, chop etc, just toss it in whole), which apparently adds  warmth without spicy violence.  Sounds like a great hack if I ever feel like pushing the envelope.

My daughter’s new favourite soup: Creamy Zucchini-Potato (pareve)

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I know I’ve been doing a lot of soups lately.  Forgive me… it’s winter and I could not be happier.  Before we moved to Israel, we got used to inaugurating Soup Season at Sukkos and finishing sometime after Pesach.  Here, Soup Season is way shorter – more like December to February than October to April.  So little time, and so many soups to cram in while we’re still shivering.This Zucchini-Potato Soup is pareve because it gets its creaminess from pureeing potatoes.  It is super-fast, mainly because you make it in a small batch.  It can easily be doubled, tripled, etc., to serve a crowd.  Did I mention that my daughter is nine?  She found this herself in the cookbook and has actually made it entirely by herself, except for the pureeing part at the end.If you are just starting out on the soup-making journey, this is the perfect soup for you to start with.  It can be anything you want it to be.  You don’t taste the zucchini, which is perfect, because most of us here don’t love zukes.  If …

Thinking outside of the Triangle: 26 zany new hamentashen you’ll “flip” for in 5775!

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The theme of Purim is “venahafoch hu” – it was overturned.  Everything is flipped around at this busy, zany, fun time of year… including the tedium of using the same traditional recipes, year in and year out.  There’s a time for “moon and prune” (the traditional poppy and prune fillings), of course.  But why not turn to one of these jaw-dropping new creations to discover a brand-new favourite you can proudly share with family and friends?  There’s certainly plenty here to choose from…1. Gingerbread / chocolate hamentaschen2. Rainbow hamentaschen3. Nutella hamentaschen4. Black sesame hamentaschen5. Yeasty hamentaschen6. Candy-cane cheesecake hamentaschen

15-minute pareve peanut brittle? Yes, you can!

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Looking for a quick-and-easy dessert recipe but you don’t have much time?All you need is some nuts plenty of white sugar, corn syrup* and a thermometer.  And that, plus maybe 15 minutes, is just about all you need!*If you’re in Israel, where corn syrup is hard to get, you can make your own invert sugar syrup instead.Shh… let me tell you a secret:  I don’t like peanuts, so I always make this with almonds instead.  I toast them in the oven ahead of time, because it really helps intensify the flavour.  No salt or oil; just almonds in a tinfoil pan.  Toasting won’t bring back rancid almonds, but it can perk up the ones that taste like they’ve been on a supermarket shelf in a plastic container for a bit too long.  I also cut the almonds in half, because a whole almond is overwhelming in brittle.NOTE:  Measure all the ingredients before you start!  As with other types of candy-making, things move pretty quickly once you reach your target temperature.  Also, forget about the “drop” method – …

Hot and WHAT…? Hot and sour, one of my all-time favourite soups

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Do you love Asian flavours as much as I do?Then maybe you miss them as much as I do, too.Even though Israel is technically IN Asia, it’s tough to get authentic-tasting Asian food here.  Takeout places are hit and miss, mostly on the “miss” side of things… as in, I totally MISS delicious hot and sour soup.  Yes, it looks disgusting (if you make it right).  But the mix of flavours, of sweet, spicy, pungent, salty… well, it’s divine.(And on the plus side, the hottest thing in Tel Aviv is kosher dim sum, and it actually tastes okay, so I guess I shouldn’t complain too much.)Still, while the cool weather lasts a little longer here, I thought I’d share one of my all-time favourite soup recipes – to make, to share, to just lean over and inhale.  It’s very, very fragrant.  You can adjust the hotness and sourness to suit your family’s taste.RECIPE DISCLAIMER:As with most of my favourite easy soups, this recipe is an approximation, not an actual scientific calculation of ingredients and quantit…

My mother’s secret pralines: turn ordinary pecans into… magic

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I have the secret! But you have to swear you won’t tell.  These are my mother’s top-secret recipe, which was my grandmother’s top-secret recipe before that… which may not not really be all that secret after all.I wish I had a great picture to show you, but believe me, these turn out looking beautiful.  Every time I make them, they go so quickly that there’s no chance to take a picture.So now, like me, you can make Pralined Pecans (or pralined almonds, as I did during Pesach) any day… or any night! Anytime, really. They are super super easy. And they always turn out well, despite my occasional neglect – crystally and nice and nostalgic.Ready? Here goes!Three Magical Ingredients!1/2 lb whole pecans [about 2 cups] - I don't know what she means by WHOLE pecans - I use raw (unroasted, unsalted) pecan halves 1/4 cup water [or sherry, my mother says] 1/2 cup sugar

Linzer Tart, gluten free by Paula Shoyer (shh... it’s Kosher for Passover too)

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Planning for Pesach yet? No???  Why the heck not? Oh, yeah... because it's January.  Then again, when better to test out recipes so your family doesn't have to live with those thrown-together first-time "experiments" when yom tov rolls around?And if you think of it as the most incredible gluten-free pie crust you've ever seen, EVER, then it becomes a little easier (so to speak) to swallow. Plus, hey, who doesn't love a new cookbook?  Especially when, like Maryland mom Paula Shoyer's brand-new The New Passover Menu, it's a totally user-friendly experience, complete with prep times, cook times, hints for advance prep and freezing... plus, get this:  equipment lists.  Yes!  A cookbook writer who GETS what it's like to work in a bare-bones Pesach kitchen, not sure if you have a pareve sieve or not.  (Though she recommends that everybody run out to buy a waffle iron for Pesach, which may not be the most practical suggestion ever.) I discovered Shoyer …

What to expect (maybe you know the feeling?)

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You know that feeling?  When you’re expecting something really, really good in the mail?  Like a tasty treasure-trove of Starbucks instant coffee from your sister Canada?  Because there IS no Starbucks in Israel, only Aroma, which isn’t nearly as good?  (okay, only Aroma, and Greg, and Roladin and Maafah Na’aman, and a million other chains, which is fantastic, but they are NOT Starbucks)And everywhere you turn…(and by the way, Starbucks is NOT not here because of antisemitic or anti-Israel or anti-Zionist anything)Even nestled in the weeds…Hiding in the neighbourhood olive trees…And twisted into the branches of even weirder trees…

Baking maven Paula Shoyer declares war on kichel. This killer recipe proves her wrong.

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Know what the most popular post on this site is, right at this very moment?  By far?It’s a post called “Mmm… kichelicious.”I adore kichel, the dry unsweetened European cookie that has been a staple of Jewish life since… well, probably since someone’s Bubby needed to make cookies and discovered that she was out of sugar.  Apparently, thousands of people out there on the Internet love kichel and want to know how to make it well at home. But celebrity kosher baker Paula Shoyer does not.  Which is too bad, because in every other way, she’s absolutely perfect.  I enjoyed a baking demo she did yesterday at the home of the U.S. ambassador to Israel Daniel Shapiro.  She did a really great job of preparing a couple of basic recipes that I hope to share with you very soon.But the real reason for her crusade to bring simple, delicious pareve baking recipes to home cooks is because, as she said yesterday, “in the U.S., pareve desserts… are absolutely horrific.” Foremost among the horrors?  The ki…

How many minutes till snack time?? Feeding hungry kids after school.

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What do you feed your kids when they walk through the door?(Or do you feed them at all?)I admit, this is one of my weaknesses as a parent.  One of the things I’m really not so good at. Maybe you’re better than me at this (if so, I want to hear from you in the comments!), but perhaps the thing I’m worst at, as a parent, is feeding starving kids – my own.When they walk in the door after school, they’re famished.  Not literally starving, as I’ve told them many times.  But they are very, very hungry. Worse still is that they usually don’t realize it yet.  They don’t feel hungry – but they are.

Go soak your head… and NOT your beans!

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Here it is:  The bean snob’s guide to delicious quick-cook, no-soak beans.Do you love beans?  Or do you just put up with them?For years, in Canada, we were hooked on canned beans.  We put up with them, even enjoyed them, if they were seasoned heavily enough.Blah.  Never again.Here in Israel, I’ve become a beany snob.  (nothing delicious can come out of here…)Canned beans may be easy, but they are also mushy and worse than flavourless – they’re tin-flavoured.  Here, canned beans practically don’t exist, so we don’t have any choice.  And the great news is that from-scratch beans are tastier, too.  By which I mean they taste like something.  As opposed to a tin can.

More delicious kosher morsels!